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4th sizzles despite drizzle

Pacific County revels in full hotels and cash registers
Natalie St. John

Published on July 10, 2018 2:38PM

A spectator played with a group of dogs who shared his penchant for patriotic adornments in Ocean Park on July 4.

A spectator played with a group of dogs who shared his penchant for patriotic adornments in Ocean Park on July 4.

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A group of friends posed for a synchronized jumping picture in Long Beach.

A group of friends posed for a synchronized jumping picture in Long Beach.

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Clouds of smoke and the constant sound of fireworks added to the drama of a beautiful sunset in Long Beach on July 4.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Clouds of smoke and the constant sound of fireworks added to the drama of a beautiful sunset in Long Beach on July 4.

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Right: Spectators saluted passing veterans during the annual Fourth of July parade in Ocean Park.

More photos inside, see Pages A12, A13

Photos by NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Right: Spectators saluted passing veterans during the annual Fourth of July parade in Ocean Park. More photos inside, see Pages A12, A13

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The driver of a vintage car was prepared for any potential of bad weather during the annual July 4 parade.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

The driver of a vintage car was prepared for any potential of bad weather during the annual July 4 parade.

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Spectators and participants in the Seaview Fourth of July parade observe the singing of the National Anthem by Lillyanna Doupe.

DAMIAN MULINIX/For the Observer

Spectators and participants in the Seaview Fourth of July parade observe the singing of the National Anthem by Lillyanna Doupe.

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A spectator greeted Sheriff Scott Johnson during the parade. Parade organizers banned political candidates from the parade this year, but said incumbent politicians could participate — as long as they didn’t do any campaigning.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

A spectator greeted Sheriff Scott Johnson during the parade. Parade organizers banned political candidates from the parade this year, but said incumbent politicians could participate — as long as they didn’t do any campaigning.

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Despite stricter rules in recent years, the Long Beach Peninsula remains a popular destination for people with a passion for DIY fireworks shows.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Despite stricter rules in recent years, the Long Beach Peninsula remains a popular destination for people with a passion for DIY fireworks shows.

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Bicycles led the way during the Seaview Fourth of July parade Wednesday.

DAMIAN MULINIX/For the Observer

Bicycles led the way during the Seaview Fourth of July parade Wednesday.

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There was a week of fireworks for Independence Day, with professional shows in Long Beach on July 4 and Ilwaco July 7.

JANE WINCKLER WEBB PHOTO

There was a week of fireworks for Independence Day, with professional shows in Long Beach on July 4 and Ilwaco July 7.

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It was all about the red, white and blue at the Seaview Fourth of July parade Wednesday.

DAMIAN MULINIX/For the Observer

It was all about the red, white and blue at the Seaview Fourth of July parade Wednesday.

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There are as many ways to express patriotism as there are Americans, and that was clear during the annual fireworks extravaganza in Long Beach. Not far from this truck, another group waved a rainbow-stripe American flag with pot leaves instead of stars.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

There are as many ways to express patriotism as there are Americans, and that was clear during the annual fireworks extravaganza in Long Beach. Not far from this truck, another group waved a rainbow-stripe American flag with pot leaves instead of stars.

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Friends from Oregon burned their Fourth of July trash while watching the fireworks that were exloding all around them in Long Beach on July 4.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Friends from Oregon burned their Fourth of July trash while watching the fireworks that were exloding all around them in Long Beach on July 4.

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A large family group watched the official fireworks display in Long Beach, while dozens of unofficial fireworks exploded behind them.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

A large family group watched the official fireworks display in Long Beach, while dozens of unofficial fireworks exploded behind them.

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Beachgoers lit sparklers in Long Beach on Independence Day.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Beachgoers lit sparklers in Long Beach on Independence Day.

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As always, kids along the parade route used sidewalk chalk to add their own contributions to the festivities.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

As always, kids along the parade route used sidewalk chalk to add their own contributions to the festivities.

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Out of concern for childrens’ safety, parade organizers asked participants not to throw candy off of moving vehicles this year. Instead, many groups had ‘walkers’ pass out sweets.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Out of concern for childrens’ safety, parade organizers asked participants not to throw candy off of moving vehicles this year. Instead, many groups had ‘walkers’ pass out sweets.

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The Ocean Park Chamber of Commerce  banned election-related parade entries this year, saying they wanted to have a fun, family-friendly event. Some were dismayed, but the rule wasn’t a problem for the people from ‘Grandma Viv’s Place,’ a fun-loving Ocean Park group that chooses a different theme for the parade each year.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

The Ocean Park Chamber of Commerce banned election-related parade entries this year, saying they wanted to have a fun, family-friendly event. Some were dismayed, but the rule wasn’t a problem for the people from ‘Grandma Viv’s Place,’ a fun-loving Ocean Park group that chooses a different theme for the parade each year.

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Grand Marshal Dan Driscoll, right, and his girlfriend Linda Engelsiepen rode in a rare vintage Mustang during the Ocean Park parade. The ‘Dont tread on me’ flag was a nod to his long-running land-use battle with the county, which was recently resolved.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

Grand Marshal Dan Driscoll, right, and his girlfriend Linda Engelsiepen rode in a rare vintage Mustang during the Ocean Park parade. The ‘Dont tread on me’ flag was a nod to his long-running land-use battle with the county, which was recently resolved.

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A volley of firecrackers left hundeds of bits of paper and cardboard trash on the beach. Hundreds of volunteers turn up to pick up trash on July 5 each year, but some trash inevitable ends up in the ocean.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/Chinook Observer

A volley of firecrackers left hundeds of bits of paper and cardboard trash on the beach. Hundreds of volunteers turn up to pick up trash on July 5 each year, but some trash inevitable ends up in the ocean.

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Participants in Wednesday’s Seaview Fourth of July parade get to now each other prior to its start.

DAMIAN MULINIX/For the Observer

Participants in Wednesday’s Seaview Fourth of July parade get to now each other prior to its start.

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ACIFIC COUNTY — There were drunks, dumpster fires and garbage aplenty on the Fourth of July. In happier news, there were also full hotels and campgrounds and other indicators that local businesses did very well over the mid-week holiday.

A Raymond baby was injured by fireworks, but local public safety officials say that overall, the celebration was fairly peaceful.


Earlier nights, fewer fights


At sunset on July 4, hundreds of cars and trucks were parked on the sand near the Bolstad approach. Revelers dressed in flag-themed clothing moved through a haze of gunpowder-scented smoke and shouted over the constant report of detonating fireworks.

A fleet of state and local law enforcement officers moved through the crowds, stopping frequently to speak with visitors about oversized bonfires, under-aged drinking, rowdy behavior and the ban on overnight camping on the beach.

Local leaders agreed to impose stricter rules and have a stronger presence on the beach after Peninsula residents got tired of the rowdy fireworks free-for-all in 2015. While some beach-goers said they feel safer now than they did a couple of years ago, others thought the strong police presence was overkill. A middle-aged man said State Parks rangers had “harassed” his group all day long. He especially disliked being told to leave the beach by 11 p.m.

“Where’s the danger?” he said, gesturing at the surrounding partiers with the propane torch in his hand.


Drunks and drizzle


Long Beach police and sheriff’s deputies were on hand to keep the chaos from spilling into town. Long Beach volunteer firefighters parked their massive brush trucks in the dunes and watched for signs of trouble. Volunteer EMTs from several local fire departments were on standby, and Washington State Patrol troopers were on the lookout for intoxicated drivers.

That kept the troopers very busy — they handled seven DUIs on July 4, compared to eight DUIs in all of July 2017.

“You can say it was a really bad night, or a really good night,” Sgt. Brad Moon said on July 5. One of the DUI stops occurred near the wildlife refuge on Highway 101, but the rest were on the Peninsula. Two DUI stops occurred before 6 p.m., including one stop where the suspect had a blood alcohol level of 0.33 — roughly four times the legal limit of 0.08. None of the drunk drivers caused any injuries or collisions. Moon thought most of the people they cited had recently come from the beach.

“They had sand on them,” he said.

The night was otherwise uneventful for troopers, possibly because afternoon rain showers kept some people away. Moon said a few people told troopers they were heading inland in search of a drier place to party.

“I think that did actually turn people away from the beach,” Moon said.


Dog bites and a burned baby


Fire departments extinguished a handful of minor brush fires and dumpster fires, but nothing out of the ordinary. On the Peninsula, first responders dealt with a few incidents where holiday partying might have contributed indirectly. For example, rangers tried to locate a man who had a verbal altercation with his girlfriend. They found him driving on the beach later in the day, and ended up arresting him for meth possession. The man and his girlfriend appeared to be high at the time of the arrest.

There were 911 calls for a few minor scrapes and burns and one dog bite, but the only known serious injury occurred in Raymond. A six-month-old baby was “hit by fireworks, and injured on the arm and on the side of the head,” Raymond Police Chief Chuck Spoor said.

“We did respond to a medical call last night involving fireworks,” Raymond Fire Chief Todd Strozyk said on July 5. “We were dispatched at 9:17. We did transport one patient to Willapa Harbor Hospital.” The patient had “non-life-threatening injuries,” Strozyk said, but was ultimately transferred to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.


World’s longest trash heap


In a few recent years, an inbound tide inconveniently coincided with the end of the Long Beach fireworks display, leading to stuck vehicles and massive traffic jams on the busiest beach approaches. This year, the tide was outbound until about midnight. That made it much easier for people to leave the beach in an orderly way, according to Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright.

“It was pretty quiet,” Wright said on July 5. Long Beach officers didn’t make any arrests.

Wright worked late, then went back to the beach the next morning to see what it looked like.

“I’m disgusted with the amount of trash on the beach,” he said. City crews and about 600 volunteers from Grassroots Garbage Gang cleaned up the beach on July 5, but most of the people who actually left garbage all over the beach were long gone. Wright said he wouldn’t be surprised if State Parks officials eventually impose stricter fireworks rules to curtail the annual tide of patriotic trash.


No room at the inns


Local business owners had more to celebrate. Andi Day, director of the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau, said businesses were still “extremely busy, but not over-busy” on July 5.

“What we typically see when the Fourth falls on a weekday is that it’s not as busy on the actual day of the Fourth, but busier on the days surrounding,” Day said. According to Day, most campgrounds, vacation rentals and RV parks were full or nearly full, and hotels were at about 95 percent occupancy over the holiday.































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